Bolivia Travel Information

Photo Bolivia is a land of sharp contrasts with climatic conditions ranging from arctic to tropical. It is divided into three distinct ecozones: the bleak, windswept, Tibetan-like plateau or "high plain" called the Altiplano (3,600 meters high) separating two generally parallel Andean cordilleras; the intermediary valley region (often referred to somewhat loosely by travel writers as the yunga, meaning warm valleys), which consists of both the eastern temperate high valleys and the only valley that Bolivians call the Yungas, the steep semitropical valley northeast of the city of La Paz; and the eastern tropical flat lowlands, which make up about 70% of the country, including part of the vast, semiarid Chaco region in the south.

The population of Bolivia (2001 estimate) is 8,300,463, giving the country a population density of 8 persons per sq km (20 per sq mi), one of the lowest in South America. Roughly 55 percent of all the people are Native American, and about 30 percent are mestizo (of mixed Native American and European ancestry). The remaining inhabitants are white, mainly of Spanish descent. Some 36 percent of the people live in rural areas.

The official languages of Bolivia are Spanish and two Native South American languages, Quechua and Aymara; of those the Native American languages are more commonly spoken.

Travel during the rainy season (November through March) is extremely difficult, as most routes are potholed, and many roads and bridges are washed out. Added dangers are the lack of formal training for most drivers, lack of lights on speeding vehicles at night, and drunk drivers, including commercial bus drivers. Fatal crashes, fender-benders, and car/pedestrian accidents are commonplace.

Important: Travel to Bolivia may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Bolivia visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Plurinational State of Bolivia
Capital city: La Paz
Area: 1,098,581 sq km
Population: 10,290,003
Ethnic groups: Quechua 30%, mestizo
Languages: Spanish
Religions: Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Juan Evo MORALES Ayma
Head of Government: President Juan Evo MORALES Ayma
GDP: 50.94 billion
GDP per captia: 4,800
Annual growth rate: 5.2%
Inflation: 9.9%
Agriculture: soybeans, coffee, coca, cotton, corn, sugarcane, rice, potatoes
Major industries: mining, smelting, petroleum, food and beverages, tobacco, handicrafts, clothing, jewelry
Natural resources: tin, natural gas, petroleum, zinc, tungsten, antimony, silver, iron, lead, gold, timber, hydropower
Location: Central South America, southwest of Brazil
Trade Partners - exports: Brazil 41.8%, US 12.2%, South Korea 6.4%, Peru 5.7%, Argentina 5.2%, Japan 4.7%
Trade Partners - imports: Chile 23.5%, Brazil 23%, Argentina 10.3%, US 10.1%, Peru 6.9%, China 5.8%